My husband and I murdered a holiday tradition on Sunday.
We bought an artificial Christmas tree.
Mind you, this wasn’t one of those impulsive decisions you get while strolling down the Costco aisles (I know that just like me, every one of you have some kind of massager you just couldn’t live without). We weighed the cost of one artificial tree compared to a lifetime of tree lot evergreens, as well as the carbon footprint we leave every year by assassinating an innocent living thing for our own two-week enjoyment, and decided to do the eco-friendly thing.
Here’s our typical holiday tradition:
One or two weeks before Christmas, the whole family would wander down to the local Christian church where we are not members (we’re heathens) and check out the freshly-cut trees. The criteria? – not too short, not too dry, not too bald. We always aimed for the $50 tree, but ended up with the $75 one. We contemplated if we should buy the $10 stand/water dish or try to find the one in the garage that makes every tree lopsided. Then some guy who looks like a weekend carny would tie the tree to the top of the minivan. I tipped him $5, the whole time thinking, “I was a Girl Scout. I know how to tie a bowline and a square knot. I can do a lot with the five bucks I just gave away.”
We’d drive the tree home and open the front door, hoping the dogs wouldn’t bolt for the street as my husband carried the tree inside, spraying a trail of pine needles along the way. We’d adjust the stand and pour the evergreen mixture and water into the stand dish, wondering why we always paid extra for the potion even though the tree seemed dehydrated in minutes. We also had to keep the pets from drinking it, which was an impossible task. You’d think that evergreen potion would make dogs less thirsty.
Then my husband or I would string up the colored lights. If it was him, he was done after two strands. If it was me, I wouldn’t stop until I had eight strands up and the tree glowed brighter than kryptonite. Unfortunately, at some point in the next two weeks, at least one strand would burn out, leaving a chunk of the tree in a blackened shadow for the rest of its existence.
The tree would get dryer by the minute. After a few days we would hear random kerplops as a brittle branch gave way and a heavy ornament fell to the ground. Every year we’d lose three to four of the breakable ones. Most of the time I save them in an ever-growing zip lock baggie with every intention of gluing them back together. I never do.
Then on New Year’s Day we’d throw a large bag over the tree and my husband would carry the condom-covered carcass to the street where it might sit for weeks. The sanitation workers only haul it away if we shove it in the green bin, which we are only able to after the tree completely turns to kindling.
And that’s our annual Christmas tree tradition.
I looked online at artificial trees to see what kind of cost we were looking at. Target sells them in the range of $80 to $800, which made me want to immediately rethink my plan since there’s no way in hell I’m going to spend twice as much on a tree as we do for our whole Christmas.
We decided to check out Sears, for the simple reason that it happened to be the anchor department store at the mall we were at. They had two trees available – the $200 tree that was on sale for $125, or the $300 that was marked down to the low price of $150. I like a good deal, so you can guess which one I chose. My bet is that Sears never sells that tree for $300. They just say they do to persuade suckers like me to buy it.
We bought the 7.5 Foot Just-cut Blue Noble Fir Pre-lit Tree. It has multi-colored lights that never burn out, and apparently is so easy to put together that even our 5-year old could do it if he had the ability to read the instructions. The tree is called “slim,” which is usually a word I like very much, especially if someone calls me “slim,” but on a Christmas tree it sounds more like an insult. However, we have a smallish living room, and a slim tree would probably be a smart choice.
Mary and Emily were gone when we bought the tree, and Jake seemed to take a greater interest in the box rather than the tree itself. When the girls returned home and saw the tree, Mary was horrified. How could we choose a tree without her? How could we get a fake tree? It didn’t even smell like a tree.
Mary was outnumbered. Emily didn’t want to murder another tree. So instead, we murdered our holiday tradition.
Merry Christmas to y’all and I hope you celebrate wonderful old and new traditions this holiday season.